Tiger Woods focusing on present and future in Major quest
Masters champion says he only recently watched back a rerun of Augusta triumph
Tiger Woods plays a shot watched by (L-R) Gary Woodland, Henrik Stenson and Jon Rahm during the ‘Hero Shot at Baha Mar’ ahead of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this week. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
“We did it.” These words yelled by Tiger Woods to his caddie, Joe LaCava, as they embraced in celebration of Masters success form part of 2019’s outstanding sporting moments. Woods may not seem one for looking back but he has now revealed he has finally watched a rerun of that Augusta triumph in the company of the same man, with a key recollection being a fear of failure mid-championship.
“I sat down and watched it with Joe,” Woods said. “He came down to Florida to do a TV spot then he and I just sat there, had a few beers and watched it.
“We spoke about the conversations we had over each shot. Some of our friends and family who were there were like: ‘Oh, my God, you guys really talked about that?’ But that’s what we were talking about, that’s what was going on. We were running through all the scenarios, Joe looking at the boards, I am looking at the boards.
“We were trying to figure out what was going on; who birdied what, who was making a move. We were having those discussions on the fairway about what we needed to do while still staying focused about executing.
“It was a lot of fun seeing it back and sharing it with Joe, because he has been through all the tough times with me as well as the good times.”
Having returned from the depths of physical despair, it is little wonder Woods uses “incredible” to describe his year. That 15th major win – and his first since 2008 – was backed up by victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan to match Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour titles.
Intriguingly, he appears to derive as much pleasure from the nature of his Masters success as the fact it transpired at all. Woods was two off the lead heading into the final round.
“I’m just proud of what I’ve done, to come back to win another major championship but also to do it in a different way,” he said. “I’ve finally come from behind to win a major championship. I finally know I can do that. I had never done it; 14-1 is not a bad record but I had never done it this way.”
The 43-year-old admits a return to Augusta will prompt reflection. “I think we all get a bit more reflective as we age,” Woods said. “My window is a lot smaller than it used to be, so understanding that and recognising it is not a bad thing.”
Jack Nicklaus’s haul of 18 majors remains an understandable target. “I think it is. I have to do everything right. I have to have all the pieces come together.”
Woods does not object to analysis of his performance and character. “That’s life. What we have done in the past and what could be in the future,” he said. “Unfortunately tomorrow is never promised, so I live in the present, enjoy that moment while obviously making plans. People will look back on the past as well.”
This week Woods hosts the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where his latest comeback essentially started in 2017. Afterwards Woods enters new territory by captaining USA in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. “I always thought I was going to be a captain,” said Woods in response to whether individual pursuits once made this a non-starter.
The obvious subplot relates to when and where Woods will captain USA in the Ryder Cup, a competition that has not been kind to him. Woods formed part of a Ryder Cup taskforce established to improve American fortunes after a heavy defeat at Gleneagles in 2014. He has now supplied clarity on the broader picture.
“We have a system in place, which is great,” he said. “Our system is working. We didn’t play well at the right time last year [in France] and we got smoked but it is one of those things we looked at as a 20-year window. If we are able to win, call it seven out of 10 cups, that’s what we are looking at.
“It’s hard. For Phil Mickelson and I. It was a case of we needed to take a step back, take a look at it as a 20-year run. It is going to outlive us, so how do we set it up for that and how do we set it up to be successful? That’s what we have done and we will let it play out over the next 16 years and see how it ends up.” – Guardian